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REA 0017 (Cowden): Authority

This a guide for Prof. Karen Cowden's developmental reading classes.


An accepted source of expert information or advice.

An expert usually has education in his or her specialty OR lots of experience, often both.
Experts who are better known in their fields are recognized authorities.

Is the author of the information an authority on the topic?


Formal (greater authority)

Suitable or might be suitable for college-level research

What they have in common:

  • Expertise
  • Editing PRIOR to publication
  • Research-based information
  • Intent is mostly to inform

Informal (lower authority)

Typically not suitable for college-level research -- personal use only

What they have in common:

  • Unverified expertise / amateurs
  • No editing/editing AFTER publication
  • Not necessarily researched; often personal opinion
  • Intent is to entertain or sell

West Campus Librarian

Beth King's picture
Beth King
West Campus 6-326J